Lost amid Baylor’s excellent season has been the talk regarding the Title IX issues the team has faced over the last few years, until now. The school’s Title IX Coordinator, Patty Crawford, resigned this week amid claims that the University was actively undermining her in her duties and had offered up the football program as a scapegoat. Baylor can hardly afford anymore bad press and federal investigations are typically more serious than NCAA investigations. This does not bode well for the school moving forward and might even become a distraction for the football team that they sacrificed in order to save face.
As long as we’re discussing the Big 12 it’s tough to see a team other than Baylor winning the league, but Baylor isn’t exactly playing like an elite team. While it’s certainly possible that they survive Big 12 play unscathed it is equally likely that they drop a game or two during conference play. The Big 12 needs some good news, as it is quickly being left behind by the other power conferences in football, and expansion could be exactly what saves the day. It could also be another nail in an almost sealed coffin. Houston is the obvious choice in terms of on the field success, just like TCU was in the last round, but Houston might lose its Head Coach to LSU, or even USC or Texas, and won’t add anything to the television landscape. The Big 12 needs to act quickly but they also need to act correctly.
Apparently even Head Coach Bobby Petrino can make a correct decision every now and again - we’re talking about off field decisions here. After learning that the athletic department had been inundated with autograph requests for Lamar Jackson, Petrino banned all Cardinal players from signing autographs. While the move might seem harsh to some it is good for the players. Many people get autographs in order to profit from their sale. Sometimes the players get caught up in the business and their eligibility is affected. In a system where everyone involved profits, except the players, shutting down a revenue stream that is no benefit to athletes seems like a no brainer - and one that more schools should implement.
If there is a team of destiny in college football this year the early favorite is Tennessee. Their victory over Georgia will be one for the ages, and will be replayed over and over again during Bowl season - or playoff season. The most impressive victory for this team, however, came the week before against Florida - a team the Vols hadn’t beaten in 12 years - in a drastically different fashion. Whatever their flaws are, this Tennessee team clearly knows how to win and isn’t giving up on itself when the situation seems dire. They face, perhaps, their biggest test of the season in Texas A&M this weekend and the winner will be in the early mix for a playoff spot - pending each team’s game against Alabama.
Don’t look now but it appears as if Washington is now the class of the Pac-12. By class I mean the only elite team. Their victory over Stanford was impressive, and Stanford is the only other Pac 12 team that hadn’t been a disappointment when they met. Oregon awaits this weekend in what appears to be a game with huge implications on the future of the Conference. The Ducks are clearly trending down, at least for now, and need a win to prove that they are still relevant. Washington needs the victory to cement itself as an elite college football program again. It should be a hard fought rivalry game, but it is a game that the Pac-12 desperately needs Washington to win.
And Another Thing
Mark Richt probably shouldn’t have been fired by Georgia, although he had clearly plateaued there as a Head Coach. At Georgia Richt was one of the few major program Head Coaches that would discipline his star players without respect to the on field product - something that is also indicative of Georgia’s policy towards student athletes. At Miami, Richt must rebuild a once proud program that is in need of not only discipline but talent as well. The ‘Canes are quietly impressive so far in 2016 heading into their biggest rivalry game with FSU.